Might be AWOL for awhile. we are moving into the new house tomorrow and the internet may or not be a long time coming. I will be checking emails and such but i don’t see myself doing much updating here til we get re-inter-netted.
Monthly Archives: May 2010
Im not sure I could have imagined what I would be when I grew up, only that it couldnt have been as wonderful as it is.
Lots of stuff getting finished/healed/worked on lately. All the following pictures would fit into the “not Japanese style stuff”. Of course the more traditional pieces are typically smaller one or two session tattoos so they get done earlier than the multiple session sleeves and backs. There is a pile of that stuff in the works though, so lots of dragons and koi will be up soon!
This first piece is a memorial tattoo for Buffett the parrot, I wanted to give him a little bit of a frame in order to get close up on the poor guys face since his head coloring and eye color was so distinctive.
Next is a representation of the city of Pittsburgh coat of arms with a couple steel girders behind and the geographic co-ordinates of the city’s central tourist attraction, the point fountain. It on the inside of his forearm.
Indian Chief on the side of a bicep /elbow.
Ive never done a dagger with the blade all red before, but I like it! We tucked this guy into a weird space on the backside of a forearm.
Sometimes folks don’t mind coming back for a couple sessions, sometimes they do. This customer wanted the whole piece done on her ribs, in one shot and six hours later thats exactly what she got. Its about 2 1/2 feet tall on one of the less fun parts of the human body to tattoo and she sat like a champ right up til the last 15 minutes. (which is 4 hours and 15 minutes longer than i would have lasted. . . )
Did this gypsy with a snake coming out of her mouth on the outside of a calf. Ive been a big fan of having the traditional red eye shading follow the contour of a cheekbone lately. I get on little kicks like this every so often, its why every tattoo is a learning experience.
this was based on a piece by an artist whose name I cant find right now, but I loved the imagery and the washed out palette. obviously with a tattoo we needed to push that contrast up a wee bit, but I think we managed to do so without compromising the rustic feeling of the original art.
In the netherlands where 33%of trips are made by bicycle. I can dream cant I?
In his expansive study of Mythology (which he wryly described as “other peoples religion”) author Joseph Campbell made an interesting observation. Namely that all past religions were in accord with the science of their day. The rules that governed the world of ancient peoples were not in conflict with the faith that these people practiced. To an ancient Egyptian the story of Horus in no way conflicted with the Egyptians ideas of how the Earth was formed, why certain events occurred throughout it and how the miraculous was made understandable. To an ancient Mayan the world really did require human sacrifice and the ritual games that were an integral part of their culture had cosmic significance. These people didn’t have to believe in their religion, they lived it! it was all around them, and it explained their world, their place in it, and their role in the society in which they existed. It would have been completely useless to try to make a Hellenic Greek believe the religion of the Zulus, it wouldn’t have agreed with the Greeks knowledge, his scientific understanding of his world.
Campbell went on to say that if your Myth, your religion, doesn’t agree with the science of your world, then it just isn’t working for you. You can not reconcile the story of a 4000 year old culture with that of ours today, and to try does a terrible disservice to both. No matter how fervently you believe, some part of us knows that the world took longer than 6 days to build or that a woman could not really be formed by a rib taken from a man, we may want to believe, but believing is not the same as knowing. If you want to see what happens to a world full of people know one thing scientifically and are told to believe another thing on faith just take a look at the world of religious violence we have today. It is the schism that comes when ones own mind is at war with itself, it is turned outward, toward everyone who wont help us to fool ourselves that what we really know isn’t what we really know, but at heart the problem is that Belief cannot overtake Knowledge. Faith is another world for believing the unbelievable.
Zen Buddhism is uniquely able to address the concerns that Joseph Campbell explains, and Western Zen Buddhism even more so. For me the first experience of this was when I realized that I didn’t have to reject any of the science that explains my world today at all to be a Buddhist. How pleasantly shocked I was the first time I read of a zen teacher telling a student that all the weird ghost stories ans supernatural stuff in the old zen stories was “just stories to prove a point” and not to be taken as facts. There has never been a point in my years of practice where I had to push away the facts before my eyes in order to swallow a “belief”. We live in a world where seeing is believing, if you feel that this is a sad state of affairs or a great one is no matter, that’s simply the way it is now. We are given the choice to embrace the real world as it is now or to try to shoehorn ancient non-factual myths onto our lives today. We can see what happens with the latter, it isn’t pretty and it isn’t necessary.
At the same time there is in the Buddhist community a popular idea that as Buddhism has traveled “west”, that is to traditionally non-Buddhist countries, that it is in danger of losing its essential nature. In most of the Buddhist “press” there is repeated the idea that we western practitioners in dispensing with the rituals and accessories of traditional forms of Buddhism that we are turning it into a “self-help” exercise. Obviously though, there is the problem of “mistaking the cup for the tea in it”, that is, of falling in love with the chanting, incense, robes, and ritual and forgetting the essential core of real Buddhism. Most of the comments about western Buddhists failings are said and published by people with a vested (if subconscious) interest in preserving the older form of Buddhism, if you own a magazine that is full of ads for companies that sell statues and expensive retreats and some punk western Zen guy comes along and says “you don’t need any of that stuff” then as a seller or supporter of “that stuff” you get a little nervous. Understandable. Fortunately Buddhism is a big (and rather tolerant) umbrella, there are, they say, 84,000 doors into the Dharma. Put another way, in Buddhism there is no one true way, only the way that is true for one (you).
In this sense western Buddhism should become a “self-help” exercise. Frankly that type of thing makes a lot more sense to the western world than reincarnated Lamas and transcendental floating do. The wonderful thing is that the essential character, the method that brings one into accord with the world carried on even as Buddhism traveled from one culture to the next.It is no mere coincidence that as Buddhism traveled away from India toward Japan that more and more it began to be pared down of its ritual elements til it was a solid core of stripped bare of all distraction. It was making that journey in time as well as distance and each culture was in the process itself of divesting the primitive science of their day for what they had newly come to realize. Today zen Buddhism is able to give me the spiritual contact with the world without asking me to ignore the facts in front of me. The fact that it has been able to do so throughout history (a history with remarkably less war and death than any other ‘religion’) while constantly being able to agree with the “science of our day” for over 3 millennia should give those concerned with whether western Buddhist are “doing it wrong” reason to relax and enjoy ever-changing and yet always essential nature of Buddhism.
I like to think of this first one as a gypsy lady telling a lie. The customer is the brother of a friend of Cara and Myself and the preliminary work was done via email. For some reason there is always a bit more struggle with me getting the art in line with the customers ideas when we don’t meet face to face before I start drawing. Somehow, that personal meeting just helps cut through a lot of the grey area when a client is trying to describe their vision. We reworked a little bit of this and then tattooed it on. This guy was, like me, not a big fan of getting his leg tattooed, for some reason it sucks extra below the knees for me. Hopefully his will heal faster than my leg tattoos seem to.
the three flower types in this piece represent family members to this client. we discussed doing it a lot smaller, but she has tattoos and has learned that when it comes to tattoos bigger is almost always better. I do quite a number of flower tattoos and they never get tired, there is just too many ways to do them and too many type of flowers out there to run out of new and cool ways to lay them out. the hardest part of these guys is the white flowers, white is not so great in large doses on a tattoo, we used a dusty blue color to add some shading and hopefully hold up even if the white isn’t super bright on her skin.
Day of the dead tattoos are getting popular and I couldn’t be happier. there is something so fun about them and it was a pleasure to work on this piece. The general layout is based on a piece the client brought in from the internet. I eschewed the usual Sylvia Ji stuff (though it is amazing artwork) and instead used a Tamara Lempicka painting as the basis of the face.
here is stage one. As you can see a lot fo the lines are put in using light gray-wash and in the hair I didn’t stress about making the lines too perfect, more than 90% of those lines would be covered as we made the hair black. Also you can see how this piece curls around the arm, from the bicep down over the ditch of the elbow and onto the upper forearm. I like it when tattoos can reveal a little of themselves as the person moves, it makes getting a single picture of the stuff harder, but I think its way more fun and dynamic on the body if I don’t try to impose stiff framing just so I can see the piece all at once.
This is the second session with the shading beginning to go in. Most of the time I don’t do a whole lot of this kind of layering, but if something is supposed to have very subtle gradations I will do a gray ‘under painting’ on some parts, let that heal and then come back with color. Once healed this will make the shading seem to have some depth and translucent effect. Once, again the drawback for me is that I don’t get a fully realized picture until the piece is totally healed and sometimes customers don’t come back until they have spent 5 years on a tanning bed.
So here is the finished piece the day we got done. I wanted the halo and outer shading to have a rough, almost folkarty feel since all the inner stuff was a clean and smooth as I could make it. Both the customer and Christal were thrilled with it and so was I.